New Minecraft boss argues for US developers to have more breaks

New Minecraft boss argues for US developers to have more breaks

The group head of MInecraft Helen Chiang has argued that US game makers need more time off from work.

Speaking to Quartz, Chiang said that developers from North America need more "off ramps" from work and still be able to come back without any hitches.

"I think here in the US we need more off-ramps from work, or opportunities to take a career break," Chiang said.

"Whether it's parental leave, or elder care leave, or a sabbatical, we need opportunities for people to take a break and not have to start over from scratch when they come back."

This is something that Chiang has learnt from working with Swedish game firm Mojang and is a stark contrast to the US working culture she was used to.

"I see my Swedish employees coming back more energised, which convinces me that we need to support more flexible work arrangements and allow for something like that in the US," she said.

"On my team, someone is about to go on sabbatical, and someone else is taking an extended summer leave to go work on a passion project, and I don't look at this as proof that they're any less committed to what we're doing.

"When they're at work, they're working hard and fully committed, but we need to recognize there's more to life than work, and I think it's great that they're invested in things beyond the office. And I know they're going to come back re-energised and ready to take on that next set of challenges for us."

Working culture in games development is one of the hottest topics in the business right now. At GDC this year, there were calls to unionise to give game makers collective bargaining against the extreme conditions they were sometimes asked to work in. 

Good Shepherd and Devolver exec Mike Wilson has argued that developers need collective bargaining - even if that doesn't take the form of unionisation. He also said that triple-A studio working conditions are having a detrimental impact on those involved

Chiang took the top job on Minecraft in January of this year when Matt Booty was promoted to CVP of Microsoft Studios. Previously she was GM on the franchise. 

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.